New Qingdao Wanda interactive roller coaster

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New Qingdao Wanda interactive roller coaster combines ancient Chinese storytelling with variety of thrills and detailed mixed-media sceneries

By Anja D’Hondt, PR Strategist at Alterface

To learn more about this exciting new interactive high-speed ride, we interviewed Sherman Shi, Senior Project Executive at Pico Beijing (left) and Louis Vanhomwegen (right), Project Manager at Alterface. Together with their teams they walked the extra mile to make the magic work! Read all about the ins and outs of the installation and why you should experience this unique ride:

Hi Sherman and Louis!
Can you very describe the new attraction and where it fits into your park?
Sherman: “Qingdao Wanda is the world’s largest indoor high-speed roller coaster and the very first to combine this thrilling roller experience with mixed-media interactivity. The attraction is built in the Wanda Mall, part of Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis in China, the world’s only film and television industrial park. Wanda Mall includes an indoor water and family theme park, cinema, outdoor square and movie park. We are so excited about this new attraction because it introduces media-based interactivity on a roller coaster at dazzling speeds, immersing visitors into an ancient Chinese story. It guarantees fun for families and friends!”

Where did the idea and inspiration for the new attraction come from?
Sherman: “The idea is based on an ancient Chinese myth called “Investiture of Gods”, which tells a story about people, spirits and warriors. The great master and generals are leading their people to overthrow the tyranny and build one of the greatest dynasties in China, Zhou Dynasty. Everyone admires their great sacrifice and heroism. This story is being told to kids by parents and teachers. However, it rarely shows on TV or movies, but only in books. We believe that people will be wondering how it would look like on big screens as a ride, therefore it was a great challenge to animate this story and bring it alive.”
Louis: “Each of the seven scenes represents a popular Chinese legend about a God, eg Jiang Ziya, the great master and Ne Zha, the brave warrior. Visitors have to defeat, as allies of the great master, each God in every scene in order to become the strongest one. It’s a great story with compelling gameplay.”

How is this attraction different or special from any other, similar, ones?
“This attraction combines interactive shooting and roller coaster experience, plus quite some SFX, including buttkickers, liquid nitrogen, hot wind…We have not yet found another attraction similar to this, which confirms the uniqueness of this ride”

What can visitors expect from this ride?
Sherman: “Experiences are being fed from all directions: the ride itself, video and audio, design and decoration, lighting, SFX…we made sure that visitors can feel the excitement rom the moment they walk into the gate. Visitors will see the creative design and decoration first in the queue line area, presented by Pico Beijing. Video and audio elements are also mixed in this area, explaining visitors the general concept and storyline. And then, they will walk into the preshow area to practice their play. The variety of thrills, even before getting aboard, will be enough to attract the visitors. Of course, the ultimate joy will be to reach the climax, accompanied by lighting and SFX. Besides the thrill of the ride, we also  want visitors to observe, to feel and to appreciate the details we have put in each and every corner.”

How are visitors ‘trained’ and prepared for the gameplay and story?
Louis: “Visitors are invited first to join one or two preshow rooms where they can use a shooting device and practice on an individual screen. This way they are able to learn and improve their shooting skills, getting a first taste of the story. After this preshow, there is a short and themed queue line to get into the mood for the ride. Once strapped into the vehicle, onboard screens and embedded audio provide quick instructions on what to do. Players are guided from one scene to the next, defeating each enemy with the shooting devices.”

High-speed interactivity @ Qingdao Wanda
How is the story ‘activated’ and what does the interactivity exist of?
Sherman: “We have 9 trains running on the tracks at 9 meters per second, every train consists of 3 vehicles, allowing each 4 visitors to play at the same time (back to back), so a total of 12 players. One game lasts 522 seconds, from boarding to departure. After each game, guests get strapped into the vehicle at the loading platform, taking a roller coaster ride onto the next scene. On average 800 visitors can be entertained per hour, which is a great throughput! The embedded audio triggers the ride and leads visitors to each of the scenes. The interactive elements include shooting, points collection, SFX… All objects are virtual 3D, physical elements are used only for design and decoration.”
Louis: “Alterface designed and installed all image generators and the shooting system (132 guns) across all different scenes, which are supported by over 40 3D projection screens. A hot wind effect is used in a scene displaying fire on the screens. Furthermore, all vehicles have buttkickers to vibrate the bench seats, managed by our Alterface show management system. For example, in the first scene the God is smashing a boat with a big sword, at the moment the boat is hit, the seats are vibrating via the buttkicker. It all adds to the incredible experience, making the ride more immersive and memorable.”

How did the building and cooperation go between the partners?
Sherman: “The building of the attraction took nearly two years altogether. Pico Beijing has been responsible for all design and construction, and is being highly valued by Wanda. The most special challenge we have encountered was the communication between the trains and Alterface system due to the gigantic size of the attraction (25,000 m2). The cooperation with Alterface has always been very good and smooth. We were all dedicated to get the work done and achieve a great result. The Alterface team got involved in the attraction about 1 year and half ago and it has been amazing to work together. Based on Alterface’s system, the ride is able to work stable and smoothly with all functions requested by Wanda.”
Louis: “It’s been very challenging due to the size of this indoor attraction. The highest scene is built 25 meters above the floor so special attention was given to safety issues. Being the only non-Chinese contractor, we got a lot of support from Pico who coordinated all aspects of the ride. The collaboration with them was very pleasant and smooth. All partners have great complementary technical skills, which made it fun to work together! I also very much enjoyed the Chinese hospitality and cuisine during my trips to Wanda.”
Sherman: “I visited Belgium a few times visiting music festivals like Tomorrowland and Rock Werchter, where I also tasted some Belgian mastercrafted beers. It’s easy to connect with people there, everyone loves music!”

Jason Zhao, Pico Beijing’s Chief Engineer of Qingdao Project: “Alterface’s team is reliable and dedicated. They finished all their work effectively and made everything easy.”
Zhitao Zhang, Pico Beijing’s Onsite Manager: “We are very glad the Alterface team supported us. We believe that we will have more opportunities to work together in the future.”
Ben Cornet, Founder & CEO Alterface: “Alterface regards a strong dark ride not as a collection of components but as a precisely crafted expertise that combines the power of technology with the visitor’s cultural background and expectations. Alterface is always teaming up with local media and design companies to make sure they can provide the best win-win solution for everyone involved. Mixed-media rides require a different set of skills and a lot of companies are currently asking our help to move faster on that learning curve. Increased and closer collaboration between manufacturers and customers seems to be the path of the future, and towards success. We are very pleased that we accomplished this with the Qingdao Wanda ride and teams, resulting in a high-quality ride.”